Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Satanic Book

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
George Santayana had one of those "stating the obvious" moments when he engraved this famous sentence for posterity.
The problem with the obvious is that it's so on your face, that we miss it completely.

Let me refresh your memory. A few decades ago, Salman Rushdie, a rather unknown British-Indian writer, wrote a book that incensed the Islamic world. It wasn't a great book, but that's not why so many Muslims were angered by it; the book, suggestively called the Satanic Verses, offended the exacerbated sensibility of the Muslims, or so it was claimed.

To make a long story short, there was such a fury over Salman's book, that a Fatwa (sort of a summary death sentence decreed by an Islamic religious authority) was declared on him.

From that moment on, wherever he was, his life was in danger.
Since Salman Rushdy was a British citizen, and in view of the Freedom of Expression right, a value that the then British government held in the highest regard (or maybe for some other more prosaic reason), Her Majesty's Governmeny offered unconditional protection to Salmon Rushdy, exposing itself to the anger of the fundamentalists. However, the British Gov. did not bow down to the pressure, and rightly so.

Many years passed, we have the negative of that picture.
A foreign author is being demonised by some British fundamentalists, and no government is lifting a finger to uphold the once so dear Freedom of Expression...   Why?...

In Portugal, just a few days ago, one respected and well-known Poet/Politician, Manuel Alegre - who had been arrested by the Political Police in his youth, during the old regime, and later forced into exile - came out to speak in defence of Portuguese Nobel Prize Winner, Jose Saramago, whom, on his recent book "Cain", calls the Bible a "book of mischief" and God a "son-of-a-bitch"; fair enough - there was of course some controversy (he should try that with Islam), but nothing comparable to that hot Summer of 2007... and do you think Manuel Alegre or anyone else defended Gonçalo Amaral and his right of free expression? Obviously not. Why not?!

Could it be that these two governments have made a pact to perpetuate a convinient lie?
A lie to hide something that is more dangerous for them than an angry mob shouting "Death to the West", on every street, from Honslow to Islamabad? Maybe one day we'll find out.

Speaking of which, more fluff back in the news. Now we are hearing from the underworld of crime - not so much the Merseyside Sopranos, more of a Desperate Housewives of Liverpool - gangstas...

Right. It would be great to see the rat-pack direct their attentions to Morrocco again, or even better, to Algeria - maybe they will get on someone's nerves down there as well, step on a few toes, insult Islam, and a Fatwa is cast on them... inchAlá! ;D

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